John Hunter

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The Hunterian Society, one of the oldest in England, was founded in 1819 by Dr. William Cooke, a general practitioner, and Mr. Thomas Armiger, a surgeon, both practicing in the City and east district of London. The Society was named to honour John Hunter, the Father of Scientific Surgery, to whose lifetime of teaching and innovative experimentation the Society was then, and is yet now, dedicated to celebrate.

The Society has, since its inception, devoted its activities to the pursuit of medical knowledge and learning in the broadest sense. Meetings, which by custom established from the earliest years, are conducted in a spirit of convivial companionship over dinner which traditionally precedes the subject for debate. This conjunction of food, wine and conversation, debate, deliberation and discussion remains the hallmark of every meeting of the Hunterian Society to this day.

On Thursday 6 October 2016 the President and members of the Society attended evensong at Westminster Abbey. Afterwards a short service of commemoration was held at the tomb of John Hunter where the President laid a wreath below on the tomb.

wreath laying

In short, the Hunterian Society is one in that bright constellation of Medical and Surgical Societies which enliven the medical life of this metropolis and contribute greatly to a breadth of professional interest for all doctors and dentists in the most amiable of environments.

The President attended the Medical Society of London annual dinner at Barber Surgeons' Hall in March 2013.

The presidents of the three societies based at Lettsom House are seen above at the dinner.

Prof Prokar Dasgupta (Hunterian) - Dr Roy Palmer (Medical Society of London) - Prof David Thomas (Harveian Society)



It is with great pleasure that the President is able to announce the award of 2 CPD points for each of the days of the next session by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.


Hunterian Society Annual Dinner, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
20 Feb 2012
Ian Stephen, President, Hunterian Society and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Master, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge Stuart Blackie, President, Medical Society of London; Sally Gordon-Boyd, President, Harveian Society of London and Ian Stephen, President, Hunterian Society 


John Hunter and the Hunterian Society

Sir William Blizard (1743-1835), a former pupil of John Hunter, became the first President of the Society. He eulogised John Hunter in no less than three Hunterian Orations given at the Royal College of Surgeons between 1815 and 1828. It was almost certainly his prompting that the nascent Society adopted the name ‘Hunterian’, in preference to ‘The London Medical and Physical Society’ as originally proposed. Blizard wanted to nurture the Society within the Hunterian tradition, a hope which he voiced with feeling in his Oration in 1826: ‘May the honoured name of Hunter ever have a magic influence on the minds of its members’.

Although Hunter made no fundamental discovery, he was, however, credited with transforming medicine and surgery by promoting research into all its aspects. For example Richard Owen in an address to the Society in 1868 argued that the advanced state of medicine in his day was wholly the result of ‘methods of inquiry instituted by John Hunter’. Later in the nineteenth century writers praised Hunter for seeking the physiological and pathological principles which were integral to life in health and disease, the outstanding example being his study of inflammation.

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